Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting back to the yurt I needed to build - 2019

We finally got around to finishing the yurt for my mom to move into. It's a small one - 12 ft. but really she just wanted a bit of quiet away from the kids so it's perfect. We set it up in the goat's pasture. They love it too.

My 40th birthday present was a yurt building workshop. It was on my list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40 and it happened to fall on the weekend before my birthday. I'd been totally enamoured with yurts (or in Mongolian - ger) since I saw my first traditional Mongolian one in my early 20's. There was something about that little round blanketted space that felt right and settled deep in my bones.

The ones I've built have been designed to have minimum impact on the environment. I learned how to build them from the wonderful folks at Little Foot Yurts. ( They're made from coppiced hardwood from our property and locally made felt.

I approached a meat sheep farm about shearing for free in exchange for the fleeces. Shearing costs more than they can get for the fleece and traditionally all that wool got composted - dumped in a trench in a field and buried. Shearing is dirty, exhausting work. These aren't pretty pampered wool ewes, there's a whole lot of poop and straw to clear out of the wool before it can be processed. I worked with a mill in New Brunswick to turn it into felt for this one, but on the toyshop I felted it traditionally by hand, foot and by horse.

My mum brought back traditional Mongolian quilts years ago when she was doing development work with teachers in Mongolia so we used those to insulate the bottom walls. The snow here isn't deep so we didn't bother with a platform. We scraped back the ground inside the perimeter laid a tarp, and filled it in with sawdust then laid rugs on top after it was tamped down. Mum's bed is up on a platform though to protect it from humidity and it provides storage too. It's pretty luxurious - we made a cover with all these rabbit skins I've had sitting around.

Looking up through the wheel like this, warm and toasty with the little stove, ah quiet. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll move in instead of mum!

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